No Dramas - Recordings from Iraq

Accession Number F08390
Collection type Film
Measurement 53 min 54 sec
Object type Documentary
Physical description HDCAM SR (4:2:2)/Sound (5.1 Channel Surround)
Maker Nugent, Robert
Place made Australia
Date made 2008
Access Open
Conflict Iraq, 2003-2013
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Source credit to Acquired through Australian War Memorial Official Commission MEAO 2006

A documentary film made by Robert Nugent using footage taken in Iraq 2006 as the Australian War Memorial's Official Cinematographer.

Operation Catalyst was the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the multinational force in Iraq. A US-led coalition, which included units from all three services of the ADF, had invaded Iraq in 2003, in what became known as the Second Gulf War. This campaign toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, but insurgency broke out soon afterwards. By 2006 it has brought the country to the brink of civil war. Between 2003 and 2009, when a semblance of order was restored to Iraq and Operation Catalyst ended, over 20,000 members of the ADF served in a variety of roles on land and sea and in the air.

Established documentary maker Robert Nugent was commissioned by the Memorial to document the daily life of Australian defence force members operating in Iraq. His brief was to shoot “observational” film, capturing the daily routine of life in and outside the wire; dawn patrols, briefings, training, meals, communication with home, living and working conditions of all kinds. He filmed at Force Level Logistics base at Ali al Salem in Kuwait, the Joint Task Force headquarters in Baghdad and the Task Group based at Camp Smitty in Al Muthanna province. Using a Sony High Definition Z1P camera, he took 75 hours of material; this documentary is a distillation of his observations.

The title of this film is inspired by the phrase "No dramas" often used by Nugent’s interviewees.

Throughout the film, Nugent’s subjects are allowed their own voices – they are the narrators of their own stories, which in turn comprises the strong sense of authenticity underpinning the film. Literally at ease before the camera, comfortable and content to share their experiences, Australian troops relate tales of humour, hard work, trauma and boredom. In combining his sensitivity to human response with an eye for the stark and striking landscape of Iraq is at once a testament to Nugent’s talent as a filmmaker, and a revelation of the Australian military experience. The film premiered at the Memorial in 2008 and was screened at the Canberra International Film Festival in 2009.

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